TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

McMahon Wins University Of Cincinnati 2017 Teaching Award

McMahon2017 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching:

For over 30 years, students at the University of Cincinnati College of Law have had the opportunity to recognize excellence in teaching by recognizing professors who distinguish themselves in the classroom, and whose accomplishments in research and public service contribute to superior performance in the classroom.

Congratulations to this year’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching awardees: ...

Stephanie McMahon, Professor of Law
Professor Stephanie McMahon goes above and beyond the standard for teaching. Wrote a student in her nomination letter, “She is one of those professors you remember forever who has the ability to change your view on a subject that most expect to dislike.”

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through August 1, 2017) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

70,871

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

12,534

2

Michael Simkovic (USC)

36,914

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

9112

3

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

33,387

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3972

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

31,470

Michael Simkovic (USC)

3733

5

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

28,394

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

3220

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

23,912

Michael Graetz (Columbia)

3159

7

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

23,101

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2969

8

James Hines (Michigan)

23,047

David Gamage (Indiana)

2720

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

22,174

Andy Grewal (Iowa)

2708

10

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

22,152

David Weisbach (Chicago)

2491

11

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

21,599

Daniel Shaviro (NYU)

2285

12

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

20,401

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

2057

13

David Weisbach (Chicago)

19,548

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)

1927

14

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

19,128

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

1893

15

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

18,502

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1671

16

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

18,248

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1626

17

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

17,856

Jordan Barry (San Diego)

1622

18

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

17,755

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1575

19

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

17,740

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1562

20

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

17,613

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

1551

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

17,394

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1495

22

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

16,600

Brian Galle (Georgetown)

1482

23

David Walker (BU)

15,720

Gregg Polsky (Georgia)

1420

24

Steven Bank (UCLA)

14,933

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1395

25

Gregg Polsky (Georgia)

14,149

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1389

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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August 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg: Trump's Ownership Structure Likely Saved 'Tens Of Millions' In Obamacare Taxes

Bloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Businessweek:  Trump’s Web of Companies May Have a Way to Avoid the Obamacare Tax, by Lynnley Browning & John McCormick:

Behind the stainless steel and glass of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower lies a skeleton of 180,000 cubic yards of high-performance concrete. Below that, 57 rock caissons, some as thick as 10 feet and as long as 80 feet, anchor the skyscraper to the ground and bedrock. The building’s ownership structure is complex, too.

A limited liability company owns the building, and then another company owns that owner — followed by three more that own the owner’s owner, according to the latest federal financial disclosure from President Trump. Other companies appear to handle specific tasks, managing the building’s commercial, residential, and hotel businesses. And then there are companies that own those companies. The trail ends at the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which collects income from the president’s worldwide businesses for his benefit. A flowchart of the structure “would go from the ceiling of a ballroom to the floor,” says Ronald Wiener, a tax lawyer specializing in partnerships.

Trump

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August 15, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Budget Cuts Hit UC-Berkeley After Scandal, Drop in Ranking; Law School Reduces Number Of Associate Deans From Seven To Three To Save $1.5 Million

UC Berkeley (2016)The Daily Californian, Budget Cuts Hit Berkeley Law After Scandal, Drop in Ranking:

Chancellor Carol Christ’s substantial budget cuts left few departments unscathed last week, and the UC Berkeley School of Law was no exception. The school will cut its number of associate deans from seven to three to increase its budget surplus by almost $1.5 million. According to a draft Boalt Law divisional budget dashboard, in addition to implementing $2 million in cuts, it will have to hit higher fundraising benchmarks and expand its professional and summer programs. ...

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1559: Checking In On IRS-Tea Party Lawsuits

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg BNA, Checking in on IRS-Tea Party Lawsuits:

Republicans continue to call for restricting IRS funding and restructuring the agency to ensure there isn’t a repeat of a scandal caused when IRS employees stalled some applications of conservative groups seeking tax exemptions. The IRS has said it worked to resolve the issue.

Still, several lawsuits are pending between the agency and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS declined to comment on them. As part of occasional updates on the status of the disputes, here is where some high-profile cases stand now:

NorCal Tea Party Patriots  The IRS Aug. 2 defended its actions in the class action, saying it was within its rights to review exemption applications carefully, but it also acknowledged that it delayed some applications inappropriately (NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. IRS, S.D. Ohio, No.1:13-cv-00341, 8/2/17). ... A trial is set for Feb. 5, 2018.

True the Vote   ... True the Vote in April withdrew two discovery requests: evidence of the IRS using viewpoint-based criteria in tax administration and evidence of the political positions of IRS employees (True the Vote, Inc. v. IRS, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-00734, 4/5/17).

Linchpins of Liberty  An Aug. 15 hearing is scheduled on a motion requiring the government to release documents the Linchpins groups requested (Linchpins of Liberty v. United States, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-00777, 7/26/17). ...

Freedom Path  The Freedom Path case is set for a June 18, 2018, trial (Freedom Path, Inc. v. IRS, N.D. Tex., No. 3:14-cv-01537, 8/9/17). ... The IRS initially said Freedom Path didn’t qualify as a social welfare group, exempt under Section 501(c)(4) because it didn’t operate just to promote social welfare. The group applied for its exemption in 2011 and sued the IRS in 2014.

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August 15, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weisbach: New View Integration

David A. Weisbach (Chicago), New View Integration, 71 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017):

This paper examines the design of corporate integration systems, comparing integration limited to equity issued after enactment (New Equity Integration or NEI) to integration that applies to all equity (complete integration). It shows that NEI achieves all of the efficiency benefits of complete integration at a fraction of the cost. NEI, unlike complete integration, is, moreover, supported by both the traditional view and the new view of the effects of dividend taxation. From an efficiency perspective, NEI is strictly better than complete integration.

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August 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Write No Matter What: Advice For Academics

Write No Matter WhatJoli Jensen (Tulsa), Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics (University of Chicago Press 2017):

With growing academic responsibilities, family commitments, and inboxes, scholars are struggling to fulfill their writing goals. A finished book — or even steady journal articles — may seem like an impossible dream. But, as Joli Jensen proves, it really is possible to write happily and productively in academe.

Jensen begins by busting the myth that universities are supportive writing environments.  She points out that academia, an arena dedicated to scholarship, offers pressures that actually prevent scholarly writing. She shows how to acknowledge these less-than-ideal conditions, and how to keep these circumstances from draining writing time and energy. Jensen introduces tools and techniques that encourage frequent, low-stress writing. She points out common ways writers stall and offers workarounds that maintain productivity. Her focus is not on content, but on how to overcome whatever stands in the way of academic writing.

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August 14, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bird-Pollan Wins University Of Kentucky 2017 Teaching Award

Bird-Pollan (2017)UK Law's Jennifer Bird Pollan is 2017 Duncan Teaching Award Recipient:

Jennifer Bird Pollan, James and Mary Lassiter Associate Professor of Law, is the recipient of the 2017 Duncan Teaching Award at the University of Kentucky College of Law. 

Every year, a UK Law faculty member is recognized for excellence in the classroom, courtesy of the Robert M. and Joanne K. Duncan Faculty Improvement Fund – established in 1982 to promote outstanding teaching performance at the college.

Professor Bird-Pollan joined the UK Law faculty in 2010. She teaches a variety of Tax Law courses, including Basic Income Tax, Corporate Tax, Partnership Tax and International Tax. She is fully engaged in the academic welfare of her students and they enjoy her both inside and outside the classroom.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Analyzing The Effect Of Financial Aid On Law School Matriculation

Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Vanderbilt), Analyzing the Effect of Financial Aid on Law School Matriculation:

In the wake of recent dramatic reductions in the demand for legal education, law schools are reacting to the changed marketplace in ways that reveal Coasian “firm behavior” by responding to perverse incentives inherent in the competitive legal education marketplace. For example, to fill empty seats, law schools are enrolling students with lower GPA and LSAT scores than before 2010. Also, new evidence suggests that financial aid award allocation might be influenced by increased pressure to meet minimum enrollment requirements since the Recession. These trends evince market responses on the part of providers of legal education — law schools — as well as consumers of legal education — law students. This study aims to isolate the impact of one such firm behavior: financial aid award allocation. In the competition for shrinking pools of potential law students, law schools can discount the expected cost of attendance through institutionally-provided financial aid awards. This study assesses this trend — the effect of increasing median financial aid award amounts on matriculant enrollment totals and yield rates, controlling for law school and law student covariates — through two competing, but not mutually exclusive, theoretical frameworks. The rational choice theory, which holds that demand for legal education is determined by the exchange of information about costs and benefits. Scarce resource theory suggests that, like most institutional scholarships, the majority of law school financial aid awards are cross-subsidized.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Testy: LSAT Test-Takers Surged 12% In Sept., On Heels Of 20% Increase In June; Biggest Combined Rate Of Increase In 8 Years

TestyThe Justice Pipeline
A Monthly Column by Kellye Y. Testy (President, Law School Admissions Council)

Thanks again to Dean Caron for the opportunity to post monthly on law school admissions. I chose the title The Justice Pipeline for my column to remind us all that our work at the gateway to the legal profession carries a collective responsibility for our nation’s civil and criminal justice systems. Moreover, the global dimensions of law link our system of justice with others around the world.

As we focus on our gateway role, we have seen some welcome news in the past few months. There was a nearly 20% increase over last year in candidates taking the LSAT in June, and now, an increase of 12% for September registrations. We all hope those upticks will translate to an even more robust pipeline of candidates for law school. Our world needs more law-trained leaders who have both the capacity and the commitment to solve our most complex problems. Legal education is up to this task. During a time of significant challenge for legal education, law schools have worked hard to deliver more value. Many of the innovations are impressive, but even more impressive is the spirit of innovation that has taken root in legal education. That spirit will serve our students and our justice system well.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Welcome, Pepperdine Law School Class Of 2020

Launch Week 4

Welcome to the members of the Pepperdine Law School Class of 2020 who begin their legal education today in a week-long introduction to law school and professional formation, as well the over one hundred students pursuing joint, LL.M., and masters degrees and certificates, including our new LL.M. and certificate programs in Entertainment, Media, and Sports and our new online Masters of Legal Studies.

This is my first year as Dean, and I am thrilled that you have decided to join our very special law school community. You will learn and study on our spectacularly beautiful campus in Malibu with easy access to Los Angeles, one of the world's most vibrant cities for young professionals. You will experience the faculty and staff's faith-fueled commitment to you and to your success that manifests itself in various ways, large and small, in daily life here. My fervent wish is that you will love your time at Pepperdine as I have since joining the faculty in 2013, and that you will leave here with a deep sense of your professional and personal calling in law and in life.

August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

'America's Worst One L': How Jeremy Burnside Went From Being The Worst Student In America's Worst Law School To A Successful Lawyer

Look to Your LeftJeremy M. Burnside, Look To Your Left:  A True Story of Law School Survival in the Face of Impossibility, Murder, and an Appalachian Apocalypse (2015):

Forward (by Judge Mark Painter):

Most Lawyers look back on their law school days with a sense of horror and relief.  As Jeremy Burnside reveals in this soul-searching book, law school is a testing ground that forces us to grow and ultimately, we hope, to become capable, caring lawyers. ...

Jeremy Burnside ... struggled with grades and had squabbles with roommates and romantic interests.  But he was far from home, friends, and family.

In what could only be called an Appalachian Apocalypse, the college town was afflicted with an explosion, which destroyed his apartment on the eve of final exams, and a flood.  And three people, including the Dean, were murdered on campus.  These horrendous incidents came on top of his failure to make grades in his first semester. 

Jeremy was enrolled in America’s newest and presumptively worst law school, the Appalachian State Law School, in rural Virginia, which was working toward accreditation.  It had to have a worst student.  Jeremy’s grades were so low the first semester that he was placed on academic probation.  But since he didn’t totally flunk out (by a hair), he was still technically a law student.  But his grade report said it all.  He was America’s worst One L

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amidst Controversy Over Proposed Changes In Reporting Of Law School-Funded Jobs, ABA Defers Decision Until Late Fall

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Bloomberg, Law Deans Argue Over How to Count Jobs They Fund:

When times got rough a few years ago and student numbers started to slip, deep-pocketed law schools took solace in being able to give some refuge to unemployed graduates. They used their own funds to pay the salaries of students — often times creating temporary positions in law libraries or even dean’s offices — and were able to count them as employed.

Eventually critics of legal education outcomes caught wind of it and the American Bar Association altered its reporting standards to make school-funded jobs more obvious. But several years later, the group, which accredits law firms, is still tussling over those rules.

In June, the requirements were thrown into question again with an unexpected adoption of changes in the way such information is disclosed.

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August 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Number Of Americans Caught Underpaying Estimated Taxes Surges 40%

Wall Street Journal Tax Report, Number of Americans Caught Underpaying Some Taxes Surges 40%:

Attention gig workers, retirees, business owners and investors: Double-check your estimated-tax payments to Uncle Sam.

For reasons that aren’t clear, a growing number of people who pay taxes quarterly are getting their payments wrong and incurring penalties as a result. These taxpayers often owe estimated taxes because they have income that’s not subject to the same withholding as wages earned by employees.

According to Internal Revenue Service data, the number of filers penalized for underpaying estimated taxes rose nearly 40% between 2010 and 2015 — to 10 million from 7.2 million. 

WSJ

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August 13, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wax & Alexander: Paying The Price For Breakdown Of The Country's Bourgeois Culture

Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed:  Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country's Bourgeois Culture, by Amy Wax (Pennsylvania) & Larry Alexander (San Diego):

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more raised are by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. ...

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August 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list:

  1. [639 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [434 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [320 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was That All About?, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  4. [241 Downloads]  The Case Against BEPS: Lessons for Coordination, by Mindy Herzfeld (Florida)
  5. [193 Downloads]  Formalizing the Code, by Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern)

August 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Charlotte Law School's License To Operate Expired Aug. 10, May Shut Down

Two More Suits Filed to Block Seattle’s New Income Tax

Tax The RichSeattle Times, Two More Suits Filed to Block Seattle’s New Income Tax:

More than a dozen Seattle residents represented by the conservative Freedom Foundation sued the city Wednesday over its new income tax on wealthy households.

In addition, five residents whose legal team includes former Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna and two former state Supreme Court justices sued to block the tax.

There are now three lawsuits against Seattle’s tax, the first brought last month by investment manager Michael Kunath. Although each challenge is beginning in King County Superior Court, City Attorney Pete Holmes said the overall issue could be taken up and resolved by the state Supreme Court as early as 2018....

Passed by unanimous vote this past month by the City Council and subsequently signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle measure is a 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for married couples filing together.

Proponents and opponents alike expected the tax to be quickly challenged in court.

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August 12, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

At The Movies With A Law School Dean: The Big Sick

Big SickNick Allard (Dean, Brooklyn) reviews The Big Sick:

This morning I enjoyed the fascinating experience of meeting our two dozen plus newest LLM students from all over the world; meaning five continents because, this year Australia is unrepresented and, though warming, Antarctica is still too cold to harvest lawyers for graduate legal studies in America.  After I welcomed this amazing cohort and sincerely described how much they enrich the Law School experience for all of us in our increasingly global field of law, I took questions.  The very first question was from a Colombian woman who asked — I am not making this up — “Can you recommend any good movies for us to watch before classes start?”

Without any hesitation, I suggested that they make time to see the new film, The Big Sick: a very deft, captivating, Romeo and Juliet of a romcom, exquisitely and appealingly acted by comedian-writer Kumail Nanjiani, playing a version of himself, and Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of Director Elia Kazan) in the role of Emily, who brilliantly rewrites and updates the great Diane Keaton playbook for adorable quirkiness.

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August 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a recent article by Steven A. Bank (UCLA), When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable:

Scharff (2017)The title of Steven Bank’s recent article asks a provocative question: “When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?” Interested readers may be relieved to know that Bank also addresses other questions, including whether tax avoidance is respectable. Bank marshals a fascinating dataset (tracking newspaper ads about tax advice over time) to show that tax avoidance became more acceptable over the 1950s and 1960s. He then explains this change by suggesting, among other factors, that unsustainably high tax rates in the post-war period eroded public confidence in the tax system.  

As Bank notes, 2016 brought with it news of several major tax scandals:  the Panama Papers, tax fraud investigations of the world’s biggest soccer players—players important enough that I’d even heard of them, and, of course, Donald Trump’s, shall we say, very aggressive tax planning.  As a tax academic, it felt at the time like there might be a real public fury over aggressive efforts to lower tax payments.  My Facebook feed certainly suggested outrage.  These were big stories, or at least so it seemed to me.  

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August 11, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

The Future Of A Once-Doomed Law School Is Brighter Thanks To Trump Administration

Charlotte Logo (2016)The Atlantic, The Future of a Once-Doomed Law School: The For-profit Charlotte School of Law Could Be Saved by Trump-era Regulatory Rollbacks:

Earlier this year, it appeared as though the Charlotte School of Law would have to close its doors. The for-profit school, which had long suffered from poor bar-passage rates and long-term employment figures, was placed on probation last November by its accreditor. A month later, the U.S. Education Department announced that it would be refusing the school’s access to federal loan money, likely spelling the end for an institution heavily reliant on this source of revenue. Its dean quickly resigned, as did the interim dean who replaced him shortly after that. Enrollment dwindled to some 100 students.

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August 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Applicants Plunged 52%, And Acceptance Rates Increased 20%, At Non-T14 Law Schools From 2008 To 2016

U.S. News & World Report, Less Competitive Law School Admissions a Boon for Applicants:

U.S. News data reveal that the average number of applicants at the top 14 schools in the Best Law Schools rankings was 20.6 percent lower for the entering class of 2016 than it was for the entering class of 2008. Meanwhile, the average number of applicants at lower-ranked law schools plunged 52.3 percent between 2008 and 2016.

USN 2

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August 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Pittsburgh Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Pitt Logo (2015)The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a tenure-stream position, beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year, to teach courses in the tax area.  The successful candidate will become an integral part of Pitt Law’s tax program, which includes a Tax Law Concentration, a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, and the peer-reviewed Pittsburgh Tax Review. We anticipate hiring for this position at the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor, depending on the candidate’s qualifications. We strongly encourage applications from lateral candidates at all levels.

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August 11, 2017 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

More On Using The GRE In Law School Admissions

Editorial: Madam President, Abolish The Soda Tax

Chicago Tribune editorial, Madam President, Abolish the Soda Tax:

Cook County's soda tax turned one week old on Wednesday. Happy birthday!

Not exactly. County officials knew the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages was unpopular, but we suspect they underestimated the public wrath it would provoke once shoppers saw how much it added to the cost of their daily purchases.

A We Ask America Polls survey commissioned by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and conducted Aug. 3 through Aug. 6 found that 87 percent of respondents disapproved of the tax. Yes, 87 percent. Though the tax was sold as a public health initiative, 80 percent believe it's a money grab. And 83 percent said they would be less likely to re-elect a member of the Cook County Board who voted for it. (That chance comes in 2018.)

Whew. No positive spin in those numbers. The soda tax is about as popular as a hornet in a hospital nursery. ...

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August 11, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NYU Tax Law Review Publishes New Issue

NYU Law (2016)The Tax Law Review has published a new issue (Vol. 70, No. 1 (Winter 2017)):

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August 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. News Law School Rankings: Part-Time Applicants

U.S. News & World Report, 10 Law Schools That Draw Part-Time Applicants:

For the top 10 schools, the average number of applications was 602 for fall 2016. The average among all 103 schools was around 183. Below are the 10 schools that received the most part-time law school applications for the fall 2016 entering class.

Law School Part-Time Applications U.S. News Part-Time Rank U.S. News Law School Rank
Georgetown 1,381 1 15 (tie)
Loyola-L.A. 939 9 65 (tie)
Mitchell Hamline 510 38 (tie) RNP
George Mason 508 4 (tie) 41 (tie)
G. Washington 495 2 30 (tie)
American 479 6 (tie) 86 (tie)
Akron 456 50 (tie) 134 (tie)
W. Michigan 455 RNP RNP
NY Law School 407 24 (tie) 112 (tie)
Brooklyn 387 16 (tie) 88 (tie)

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August 10, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hatfield Wins University Of Washington 2017 Faculty Scholarship Award

HatfieldMichael (2017)Michael Hatfield Receives 2017 Faculty Scholarship Award:

The University of Washington School of Law awarded professor Michael Hatfield with the School’s 2017 Faculty Scholarship Award.

Presented by the dean of UW Law for exceptionally strong scholarship, the award recognized Hatfield’s article, Cybersecurity and Tax Reform. Forthcoming in the Indiana Law Journal, it documents the history of technology at the IRS and argues that, as it is so unlikely the IRS ever will be able to develop sufficient cybersecurity technology, Congress should reform the tax law so that the IRS is a less appealing and more defensible cybersecurity target.

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August 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Raskolnikov: The Law And Economics of Variable Sanctions

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), Six Degrees of Graduation: Law and Economics of Variable Sanctions, 43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1015 (2016):

From parking tickets to tax fines and punitive damages, legal sanctions matter in people’s lives. Yet neither the legal nor the economics literature offers a comprehensive treatment of sanctions. Their practical complexity is not well understood, and their theoretical analysis is fragmented. This Essay addresses both limitations using tax law as a primary example. Sanctions are complex because they vary along at least six different dimensions: aggressiveness, magnitude, culpability, effort to comply, likelihood of detection, and offense history. These six degrees of sanction graduation are distinct, and potentially independent, but often intertwined in obscure and perplexing ways.

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August 10, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Justifications For Going To Law School

I'll plead guilty to my own case of availability heuristic here, but it sure seems like law professors lead the parade for defensive justifications of why their segment of academy still makes sense as a post-graduate choice.  Shima Baradaran Baughman (Utah), guest blogging over at PrawfsBlawg, has bravely donned the gladiatorial armor and is sure to endure the largely anonymous opprobrium that will come in the comments as a result of any such effort.  She's committed to a continuing series on "The Case for Law School" with Part I and Part II already posted.

My daily feed-reader scan occurred this morning just before I walked Tia the Wonder Dog, so it meant that I read this paragraph in Prof. Baughman's post, then stewed about it for the next thirty minutes as Tia got her daily constitutional.  

Law school teaches you how to see both sides of an argument better than any other degree. Law school teaches you how to determine a reputable source from a bad one, a good argument from a weak one, and to see through logical fallacies. Often lawyers are criticized for becoming dispassionate because of this great skill. Students that come into law school feeling indignantly opposed to abortion rights will be forced to confront the legitimate arguments on the other side and have to rethink their views. This is an invaluable lifelong skill. There is no other education that will teach you this kind of analytical thinking. And the byproduct of this is that it makes it hard for lawyers to argue with nonlawyers (ask your snarky lawyer friends but it is true). It is important now—more than ever—to have people able to see the holes in arguments and to be able to understand both sides of an issue. It is important for people to be able to decipher real from fake news and be able to see the logical problems in arguments.

Professor Baughman's bravery deserves the wider distribution Tax Prof Blog provides, so I'll give another shot at what spilled out in the Prawfs comments after Tia and I returned home, she got her treat for being a good puppy, and I ventured back to the MacBook Pro.

Punch line: I spent too much of my career as a lawyer-executive among non-lawyers to be a proponent of "J.D. exceptionalism."  And lawyers and law profs tend to drink the rationality Kool-Aid.  It's an occupational hazard.

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August 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

2018 Princeton Review's Best 382 Colleges

Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has released The Best 382 Colleges — 2018 Edition.  According to the press release, the book contains 62 rankings based on surveys completed by 137,000 students at the 382 schools (358 per school) (methodology here), including these categories:

  • Best (U.S. Military Academy) classroom experience
  • Best (Sarah Lawrence), worst (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) professors
  • Most (Colby), least (UC-Santa Cruz) accessible professors
  • Best (Rice) quality of life
  • Most (Vanderbilt), least (U.S. Coast Guard Academy) happy students
  • Students love (Virginia Tech) their school
  • Most (UC-San Diego), least (Harvey Mudd) beautiful campus
  • Best (Richmond), worst (University of Hawaii-Manoa) run school
  • Most liberal (Reed), most conservative (Dallas) students
  • Most (Thomas Aquinas),  least (Reed) religious
  • Students study the most (Harvey Mudd), least (St. John's)
  • Most (Bowdoin), least (SUNY-Purchase) financial aid

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August 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zelinsky: The Political Process Argument For Overruling Quill

Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), The Political Process Argument for Overruling Quill, 82 Brook. L. Rev. 1177 (2017):

Should the U.S. Supreme Court overrule Quill Corporation v. North Dakota? A careful assessment of the federal political process suggests that the Supreme Court itself should overturn Quill in the Court’s role as guardian of the states against federal commandeering. A combination of factors underlay this conclusion: the tactical advantage that Quill bestows in the political process upon the internet and mail order industries, the importance of the states in the structure of federalism, the centrality of sales taxes to the financing of state government, the severe impediment which Quill and its physical presence test impose upon the collection of these taxes, and the unique disadvantages of the states in the federal legislative process.

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August 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1554: Why Is Trump's Justice Department Still Fighting Disclosure Of Documents Revealing IRS Targeting Of Conservative Groups?

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Obama IRS Abuse Should Unite Trump and Sessions, by Jerome Marcus:

[H]ere’s an issue on which Messrs. Trump and Sessions should be able to find common ground: The Justice Department should stop defending Obama administration corruption.

I’m referring to the cases, still on file today, challenging or seeking to expose Internal Revenue Service policies that delayed applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups. That’s viewpoint discrimination, a clear First Amendment violation.

The Obama Justice Department fought these cases intensely. It tried to get them thrown out of court before the plaintiffs had the chance to gather evidence. When that failed, Justice lawyers resisted discovery, to prevent disclosure of documents showing what the Obama administration was really doing.

That’s normal behavior for a defendant in a lawsuit. But since Jan. 20, the Justice Department has reported to Mr. Trump, who denounced each of the corrupt policies at issue in these cases.

So why is the department handling the cases as if it were still run by Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch? Because many of the career lawyers who were put on these cases by Obama Justice Department officials continue working on them, with no supervision from this administration. Those lawyers are still doing now what they have always done: fighting as hard as they can to prevent disclosure of what the Obama IRS, and the rest of the Obama administration, was doing to the country. ...

The government lawyers in all these cases are working hard to prevent anyone from finding out what the Obama administration was doing. Cleta Mitchell, who has represented tea-party organizations in the IRS viewpoint-targeting scandal, says Justice Department lawyers “have been stalling, obfuscating and doing all they can in these cases to avoid holding the IRS accountable.”

That’s true even though all these lawyers now work for President Trump. And it’s true even though Mr. Trump knows full well that the Obama IRS violated the Constitution by discriminating against opposing viewpoints. ...

Messrs. Trump and Sessions, as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, should all be able to agree on this. The executive branch, through the Justice Department, can on its own agree to release the desired information and end these cases, without any permission from Congress or CNN. That would lighten the workload at Justice and shine sunlight on clearly improper Obama policies.

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August 10, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The GRE Is Shaking Up Law School Admissions

GRELSATInside Higher Ed, Shaking Up Law School Admissions:

Harvard Law School announced in March that it would start to accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test. At the time, only one other law school — the University of Arizona's — had such a policy. Many wondered if the move by Harvard, given its stature in legal education, would prompt others to follow.

That question may have been answered Monday, when the law schools of both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities announced that they too would now accept the GRE, a test from the Educational Testing Service. Both Georgetown and Northwestern are highly regarded law schools and have no shortage of applicants.

But even as the announcements give momentum to the test-choice movement, they come at a time when the American Bar Association may clamp down on such experimentation. Currently the ABA requires law schools to either use the LSAT or another test the law school has determined to have "validity" in predicting student success. Arizona, Georgetown, Harvard and Northwestern all say that they have done such studies, and so comply with ABA rules.

The ABA is, however, considering a rules change that would permit law schools to use alternatives to the LSAT only if the ABA has determined the validity of the alternative test — something the ABA has yet to do with any test besides the LSAT. And many law deans — including some who have not moved beyond the LSAT — are angry that the ABA (with backing from the Law School Admission Council, which runs the LSAT) may limit their options going forward. ...

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August 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Lawyer Says The Agency Isn't Targeting Cannabis Lawyers

National Law Journal, IRS Lawyer Says the Agency Isn't Targeting Cannabis Lawyers:

A regional IRS executive told a gathering of cannabis lawyers on Friday that the agency is not out to target them, despite their work with clients whose marijuana businesses remain illegal under federal law.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Review v. Peer Review

Law Review v. Peer ReviewSteven Lubet (Northwestern), Law Review vs. Peer Review: A Qualified Defense of Student Editors, 2017 U. Ill. L. Rev. Online 1:

The Harvard economist George Borjas has also written about the shortcomings of peer review:

The point is that many human emotions, including nepotism, professional jealousies, methodological disagreements, and ideological biases go into the peer review process. It would be refreshing if we interpreted the “peer-reviewed” sign of approval as the flawed signal that it is, particularly in areas where there seems to be a larger narrative that must be served. The peer-review process may well be the worst way of advancing scientific knowledge — except for all the others.

Let me suggest that Borjas may well be wrong about the latter point. For all of their flaws and naiveté, law review editors are likely to demand proof, or at least citations, for assertions that go unquestioned by peer reviewers—not because they know more than the experts, but because they recognize that they know less. And therein lies their virtue.

Brian Frye (Kentucky), The Past & Future of Law Reviews (Aug. 6, 2017):

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August 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Bill de Blasio Will Push For Tax On Wealthy To Fix Subway

NYCNew York Times, Bill de Blasio Will Push for Tax on Wealthy to Fix Subway:

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway, city officials said on Sunday.

The proposal is the latest move in the battle between Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders — part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York.

Mr. de Blasio will announce a so-called millionaires tax on Monday for wealthy New York City residents to pay for subway and bus upgrades and for reduced fares for more riders, an idea that has been successful in Seattle.

His funding push comes as the subway faces a multitude of problems, and leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, have called on Mr. de Blasio to provide more money for the system.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Amid Criticism, ABA Pulls Back On Change To How Law Schools Report Jobs

Following up on last week's post, Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency:  National Law Journal, Amid Criticism, ABA Pulls Back on Change to How Law Schools Report Jobs:

The American Bar Association has pumped the brakes on newly adopted changes to how law schools report graduate employment, after critics complained that they obscure the number of recent graduates in jobs paid for by the schools themselves.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the changes at its last meeting in June, but is scheduled to revisit them when it meets Friday in New York in light of the negative response they’ve generated from legal transparency advocates and legal educators, who said they were instituted without the chance for public input.

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August 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes

Center for Public IntegrityCenter for Public Integrity, Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes:

At least three of President Donald Trump’s political appointees are drawing taxpayer-funded paychecks while owing the Internal Revenue Service tens of thousands of dollars, a Center for Public Integrity review of federal financial disclosures reveals.

Trump’s appointment of federal debtors to his administration perpetuates a pattern that’s dogged presidential administrations — including that of President Barack Obama — for decades.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TIGTA: The IRS Continues To Rehire Hundreds Of Former Employees With Conduct And Performance Issues

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released The Internal Revenue Service Continues to Rehire Former Employees With Conduct and Performance Issues (2017-10-035):

From January 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016, the IRS hired nearly 7,500 employees, of which more than 2,000 had been previously employed by the IRS. ... The IRS has not effectively updated or implemented hiring policies to fully consider past IRS conduct and performance issues prior to making a tentative decision to hire former employees, including those who were terminated or separated during an investigation of a substantiated conduct or performance issue.

While most employees who are rehired do not have prior conduct or performance issues, TIGTA found that more than 200 (approximately 10 percent) of the more than 2,000 former employees who were rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 were previously terminated from the IRS or separated while under investigation for a substantiated conduct or performance issue.

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August 9, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Our Broken Economy, In One Simple Chart

New York Times:  Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart, by David Leonhardt:

NYT

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Amar: A Guided Tour Through The Debate Over Changing The ABA Employment Data Form

Vikram Amar (Dean. Illinois), A Guided Tour Through The Debate Over Changing The ABA Employment Data Form:

It is, I think, a sign of the lingeringly tight job and law school applicant markets that over the past few weeks many law deans have been weighing in on a contentious change in the form the American Bar Association (ABA) uses to record and communicate employment outcomes for each law school’s most recently graduated class. As I explain below, the issue involves a complicated mix of arguments about substantive policy, procedural thoroughness, and perceptions by the outside world.

As other commentators, such as Kyle McEntee (for this website) and Jerry Organ (on TaxProf Blog), have documented in great detail, the ABA Council on Legal Education earlier this summer amended the form to be used to depict employment results, beginning with the Class of 2017. 

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Seto: The Most Significant Proposed Change In The History Of U.S. Corporate Taxation

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Theodore Seto (Loyola-L.A.), The Most Significant Proposed Change in the History of U.S. Corporate Taxation (JOTWELL) (reviewing Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley), Michael Devereux (Oxford), Michael Keen (IMF) & John Vella (Oxford), Destination-Based Cash Flow Taxation):

The House Republican Blueprint for corporate tax reform would replace our century-old corporate income tax, which we all know and love (or hate), with a “destination-based cash flow tax” (DBCFT), which for many of us remains a mystery. The academic foundation upon which the House proposal is built is a working paper by Alan Auerbach (UC Berkeley), Michael Devereux (Oxford), Michael Keen (IMF), and John Vella (Oxford) (collectively “the authors”), entitled “Destination-Based Cash Flow Taxation.” Given the current turmoil in Washington, it seems unlikely that a DBCFT will be enacted any time soon. Problems with our current system for taxing business income with an international dimension, however, are unlikely to go away on their own. If you want to get up to speed on a radical solution with substantial academic and political support, this paper is an absolute must-read. ...

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August 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

GAO: IRS Provides Only 'Minimal Oversight' Of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, Refuses To Collect Data That Would Allow It To Impose 'Basic Accountability'

GAO (2016)NPR, Housing Program Worth Billions Lacks 'Basic Accountability':

An $8 billion federal program to build housing for the poor is so lacking oversight that virtually no one in government knows how it is working, a government auditor testified before Congress today [Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Actions Needed to Strengthen Oversight and Accountability (GAO-17-784T) (Aug. 1, 2017)].

IRS and no one else in the federal government really has an idea of what's going on," said Daniel Garcia-Diaz, an auditor with the Government Accountability Office while testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. "These are basic accountability requirements we would expect of any program, especially one as important as this one."

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August 8, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Villanova Seeks To Hire A Tax Clinician

Villanova Logo (2015)Assistant/Associate/Full Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic:

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law seeks an outstanding lawyer-educator to direct and teach its nationally regarded Federal Tax Clinic. The Clinic represents low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS. The Director oversees students working in teams on examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters, and cases before the United States Tax Court, Federal District Courts and Appeals, as well as on comments projects relating to guidance issued by the IRS or Treasury.

The Director will be either a full-time continuing non-tenure track (governed by ABA Standard 405(c)), tenure-track, or tenured member of the faculty, depending on the qualifications and aspirations of the successful candidate.

Preferred Qualifications:

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Journal Of Legal Education Symposium: ABA Accreditation Standard 405(c) And Security Of Position For Faculty

Journal of Legal Education (2018)American Bar Association Accreditation Standard 405(c) Symposium, 66 J. Legal Educ. 538-652 (2017):

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)